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GOP senators introduce another cyber security bill

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

A group of Republican senators introduced a cyber security bill on March 1 that could compete with another like-minded bill introduced by a separate bi-partisan group of senators in February.

The newest bill, sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dan Coats (R-IN), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Richard Burr (R-NC), would closely collaborate with industry on protections, creating expedited information sharing through existing structures and reporting relationships, but wouldn’t task DHS with establishing rules.

The Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information, and Technology Act (SECURE IT), would also require federal contractors who provide telecommunications or Cyber security services for the federal government to report Cyber threat information to the government, and strengthen Cyber crime criminal statutes.

It would also update the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and preserve the roles of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Commerce in disseminating security standards for the federal government.

 “The SECURE IT Act strengthens America’s cybersecurity by promoting collaboration and information-sharing, updating our criminal laws to account for the growing cyber threat and enhancing research programs to protect our critical networks,” said Senator McCain. “This legislation will help us begin to meet the very real threat of cyber attack.”

 “We are all in agreement that we need to make our nation’s cybersecurity a top priority. I believe we have come up with a strong common sense approach that will help prevent the spread of cyberattacks from network to network and across the Internet, by removing barriers to sharing information about threats, attacks, and strategies for improvement,” Senator Hutchison said. “Our bill focuses on giving businesses the tools they need to protect themselves from the looming threat of cyber criminals, and increased requirements for notification of threats to federal agencies.”

“Rather than arming Homeland Security with expansive new regulatory authority over every sector of our economy, the SECURE IT cyber bill we’ve introduced today emphasizes a partnership approach between the government and private entities. By focusing on those areas like information sharing where bipartisan agreement is achievable, we can tackle the cyber issue in a meaningful and constructive way,” said Senator Murkowski.

The Cyber bill, S. 2105, introduced by a bi-partisan group led by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) would task DHS with determining if certain critical infrastructure networks should be required to meet a set of risk-based security standards. DHS would also have to consolidate its Cyber security programs into a unified office called the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications.

The group was careful to say their bill, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012,  didn’t contain an “Internet Kill Switch” that had proven to be a major obstacle in past Cyber effort.

Lieberman’s group publicly welcomed the new bill, but pressed Senate leadership to pass their version.

 “We are encouraged by our colleagues’ recognition that we must act to address the increasingly sophisticated and dangerous attacks on our national infrastructure,” said a joint statement by Sens. Lieberman, (I-CT) Susan Collins, (R-ME), Jay Rockefeller, (D-WV)., and Dianne Feinstein, (D-CA).  “We can no longer delay action on deciding how to deal with this critical issue and we are eager to work with them to bring comprehensive cyber security legislation to the Senator floor as soon as possible,” they said.


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